Airborne Optical Sectioning for Nesting Observation

David Christian Schedl, Indrajit Kurmi, Oliver Bimber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


We describe how a new and low-cost aerial scanning technique, airborne optical sectioning (AOS), can support ornithologists in nesting observation. After capturing thermal and color images during a seven minutes drone flight over a 40 × 12 m patch of the nesting site of Austria’s largest heron population, a total of 65 herons and 27 nests could be identified, classified, and localized in a sparse 3D reconstruction of the forest. AOS is a synthetic aperture imaging technique that removes occlusion caused by leaves and branches. It registers recorded images to a common 3D coordinate system to support the reconstruction and analysis of the entire forest volume, which is impossible with conventional 2D or 3D imaging techniques. The recorded data is published with open access.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7254
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Austria
  • Birds/classification
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional/methods
  • Nesting Behavior
  • Species Specificity


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